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October 17, 2019

Shapeshifters

Shapeshifters
 Shapeshifters Shapeshifters spawn with enemy attacks and in enemy bases. These creatures can transform into any unit of yours.

Shapeshifters is another custom-made mutator after The Usual Suspects. The goal of this mutator is to provide a slightly different experience for each commander you choose. Each game might be very different. The mutator isn't inherently random, and so you can plan ahead and discover optimal commanders and masteries.

Outlaws fighting outlaws
I'm Dehaka... No, I'm Dehaka!

Spawning

Initially, I though Shapeshifters would spawn the same way as Propagators – at their own time and from random enemy structures. However, with some testing I realized that might not be the ideal approach. It disrupts carefully tuned pacing of each map. Too much action requiring player attention can result in hectic and sometimes frustrating gameplay. You are not enjoying fights, you are only trying to find an open window to squeeze in an attack on the main objective.

Eventually, I decided to add them in a way that supports the mission structure – into attack waves and enemy bases. This worked a lot better for this mutator. However, I'm not arguing that other mutators should be like this as well. For example for Void Rifts mutator, it seems thematic that Void Rifts spawn independently of what's going on in the mission.

Other Notes

  • Difficulty scales by increasing the number of Shapeshifters
  • Defensive maps would be easier as you are not usually pushing into enemy bases. To balance this, on these maps Shapeshifters can spawn more often with attack waves (OE, VL, TotP)
  • Changeling model would be ideal, but it's already used for Propagators. Using it again would be confusing, and so I went with the larva model.
  • Copied enemy units get the same upgrade as you, but their upgrades are delayed by 4 minutes to give you an advantage and incentive upgrading.
  • I significantly improved my function that adds units to attack waves – especially for problematic cases with pure air waves, and waves spawned in transports. This applies to both Shapeshifters and The Usual Suspects mutators. So right now it should function better than Heroes from the Storm mutator (which for example doesn't work at all on Scythe of Amon where attack waves spawn in transports).
  • Shapeshifted units don't use active abilities. It would be probably difficult to code, and I feel it works better this way. You can find more active heroes in The Usual Suspects mutator.

Shapeshifters mutator is available on all my maps.

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